After leaving Dallas, and his Regulator partner Avi Grissom, for several years, Jakob Ender is having trouble trying to get back into the swing of things. As a vampire, he must drink blood to survive, and his bloodlust has been out of control for several years now, since his last mission with the Regulators to take down an evil warlock. It’s really just too bad he didn’t tell Grissom anything about this before he left – the alpha werewolf was not pleased at being abandoned.
And it wasn’t just that his partner left with no word – Grissom was worried about Ender, convinced that something had happened, and over the years the worry turned to anger and addiction. The relief Grissom feels seems to indicate more than just caring for your partner, but neither Grissom nor Ender seem able to admit their feelings. Grissom most definitely does not want to work with Ender again, but a mysterious and disturbing death in a local cemetery (just where the evil warlock from a few years ago happens to be buried) has them chasing leads and each other through a supernatural world.
Both Grissom and Ender are really great characters. Grissom’s anger makes perfect sense – his partner and best friend up and disappeared for years and then comes back with absolutely no excuse, or at least not one he’s willing to share, even when asked. Anyone would find that infuriating. I’d be pretty pissed myself if that happened. And Ender has a decent reason for not wanting to share, which then leads into more supernatural trouble, which leads to the climax (pun fully intended) of the story. It all comes together really well.
We also have a fae detective who is a clairvoyant – she sees that there is something more going on with Ender, and turns out to be a key player in how things work out in the end. And then there’s Captain Marx, the tough-as-nails Regulator with snazzy business suits and bouncy blonde curls, who (even in the midst of a bloodbath) manages to keep herself positively pristine – she’s more than meets the eye, and kinda kick-ass. I really liked both of them – they were strong female secondary characters who actually played large roles in the plot. It’s all too common for gay romances of all kinds to focus just on the men in the story and leave out female characters altogether. I think that this one has a great balance.
The main downside for me is that everything felt a bit rushed. There’s some time in the beginning dedicated to exploring the setting of this new series, but not nearly enough to give a true sense of world building. For one, we don’t ever really find out how the Regulators fit into the world – we know they work with the human police force, but how do they fit in the hierarchy? Are they above them? A special force? More like a federal branch? Also, how do the different supernatural species work together? Are they generally cooperative? There’s some mention of werewolf pack politics, and a passing glance at a vampire council of sorts, but not as much as I would have liked. Honestly, it just went by too quickly. Aside from that, there were a few mistakes (was Jakob gone 2 years or 3? The narrative kept going back and forth) that made it through the editing process, but nothing too frustrating.
However, this is, as I said, the first of the series, and I hope that future installments will be full-length novels, rather than novellas. One way or the other, I definitely would like to read more.